Without more trained, credentialed computer programmers, St. Louis could get stuck playing second fiddle to another Rust Belt city when it comes to bleeding-edge tech. The Lou learned this lesson the hard way when hometown success stories Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey established the headquarters for their startup Square in Silicon Valley, rather than here in so-called Silicon Prairie as they had wanted. That's where LaunchCode STL comes in. Founded by McKelvey to address the dearth of qualified coders in St. Louis, it convinced local businesses to bring on apprentices, folks who don't have a computer-sciences degree or much experience but are still talented, trained and motivated enough to do the work. Apprentices get to work in a growing field, gain invaluable experience and get paid to do it. LaunchCode has already matched 75 people with apprenticeships, and 40 of those people converted into full-time employment. Better still, the median salary for candidates hired after their apprenticeships is $55,000.